| Apr 13, 2006

Feature Article - April 13, 2006

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Feature Article - April 13, 2006

Incineration option not favoured by consultant:Shipping garbage away seen as the cheapest option

by Jeff Green

Michael Lord A study concerning future options for waste management in North Frontenac (NF) and Addington Highlands (AH) has not painted a rosy picture.

Last fall, the joint waste management committee of the two councils commissioned a feasibility study concerning a thermal processing (incineration) option for the two townships; however, last week’s report all but closed the door to that option.


Michael Lord, the area manager for the Peterborough region of Jacques Whitford Consultants, presented the report to a joint AH and NF Council meeting. He projected that it will cost about $450 per tonne of waste using a thermal processing system. Even if the townships were successful in their efforts to encourage waste diversion through recycling programs, and 40% of wastes were diverted to recycling, the aggregate cost of waste disposal would be $350 per tonne. Recycling is projected to cost about $200 per tonne.

The existing system, with a diversion rate of 13.6% of the waste, costs about $93 per tonne, but space is running out at landfill sites within each of the townships. Lord said that North Frontenac, for example, has roughly 10 years left in their waste sites.

The start up costs for a thermal processing solution are estimated at $7.5 - $10 million, much higher than the $1 - $1.5 million that was projected by a Burlington-based company, which approached North Frontenac two years ago promoting their thermal system.

“There are a great many extra costs, beyond the cost of the unit, which would come into the picture,” said Michael Lord. “A site would have to be developed, a building built, infrastructure would have to be put into place, etc.”

In order for a thermal processing plant to be economically viable for the two townships, they would be required to increase the amount of waste received for processing, which could be done by adding other partners to the project, such as adjacent townships. This is not something that the Ontario government is willing to consider, however.

“We met with Ministry of the Environment officials to talk about this 18 months ago, and they made it crystal clear that they will only consider a project for our townships because we share a dump site already,” said North Frontenac Councillor Dave Smith.

Aside from looking at the feasibility of thermal processing, Lord presented alternative scenarios for the future needs of the two townships.

One involves the joint development of a new landfill site. These have proven to be difficult to establish over the past 15 years, as provincial regulations have become very stringent. Nonetheless, Michael Lord provided an estimated cost of $100 per tonne for a basic landfill site, which would only be possible in rare circumstances where the waste and all leachate could be naturally contained. The estimated cost of a so-called “engineered site”, one that has physical buffers to contain the leachate, is $150 per tonne.

Lord also presented a third option. He pointed out that the private sector has become involved in the waste management business in recent years, and said, “There are proposals for the establishment of privately owned sites that could handle all of Ontario ’s waste for 7.5 years.” The estimated cost for hauling waste away to a private contractor, either to be placed in landfill sites in places like the Richmond dump near Napanee or the Carp dump near Ottawa, or to large scale incineration units that are being developed in southern Ontario, is $60 - $70 per tonne, making it the simplest and least expensive option.

“The private sector is taking a much more active role in the disposal of municipal waste, and you might want to consider going to the private sector,” said Michael Lord.

“It runs against the grain for our municipality not to take care of its own waste,” commented Addington Highlands Mayor Ken Hook, “but no matter what you do, from a cost perspective, the only thing left is to truck it away.”

“Economics have always driven waste management,” Michael Lord concluded.

After Michel Lord had concluded his presentation, the councillors discussed the pending closure of the Cloyne dump, which serves both townships.

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